Behind bars at the North Georgia Detention Center, men and women wait anxiously, wondering what the future holds. Located in Gainesville, the NGDC houses immigrants, migrants, and asylum seekers awaiting deportation proceedings. Since the NGDC is a transitional facility, many will be transferred to other detention centers around the country, isolated far from their families and friends. Although they have built lives for themselves in the United States, very few will escape deportation to countries they no longer call home. In the midst of such fear and uncertainty, men and women in detention must hold on to hope.
This fall, Lutheran Services of Georgia will bring Words of Hope to women detainees at the NGDC. Words of Hope is a new ministry of Friends in Hope, LSG’s detention visitation program in which volunteers become a compassionate presence for detainees. Adrainne Gray, student at Columbia Theological Seminary and LSG volunteer, will coordinate this ministry. Female volunteers will travel to Gainesville, where they will use storytelling and story gathering to share inspiring Bible stories. Each volunteer group will include at least one fluent Spanish speaker. Since women at NGDC are often referred to by their detainee numbers rather than their names, Adrainne expects they will relate to the stories of Jesus’ encounters with unnamed women. She reflects, “By telling the stories, I hope that the women are touched with the hope that Jesus promises to all people.”
Redeemer Lutheran Church hosted the first Words of Hope volunteer training in mid-August. Six volunteers from two different Lutheran congregations came out to learn about detention and prepare themselves to visit the NGDC. Christ Lutheran Church in Gainesville will host a second training session on Saturday, October 5, 2013 with at least two volunteers from their Hispanic congregation. All interested volunteers must participate in a criminal background check and a mandatory volunteer training conducted by the NGDC chaplain on Saturday, October 19. Contact Melanie Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-686-9619 for more information on Friends in Hope Detention Visitation Ministry: how you can join LSG in bringing Words of Hope to women detainees at the NGDC or become a volunteer visitor to men detainees in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA.